Yankees get head start in 2024 preparation as they prioritize youth movement


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NEW YORK — The wins and losses for the rest of the New York Yankees’ season will not matter much. They’re 10 1/2 games back of the Seattle Mariners for the third wild-card spot with 37 games left to play. Technically, the Yankees are not mathematically eliminated, but there will not be October baseball in the Bronx this season.

The Yankees are showing fans they are being realistic about their odds of making the playoffs, with outfielder Everson Pereira and infielder Oswald Peraza expected to play regularly for the rest of the season, even if they slump. And that’s what the Yankees should be prioritizing. The organization needs to get a head start on seeing what it has in both players, as each may have a chance of making the 2024 Opening Day roster.

“They’re gonna get a real opportunity,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said before Tuesday’s game. “That’s an important part of this. It also doesn’t change from what we’re trying to do tonight, and that’s win. There’s going to be a development component, with some of these guys getting real opportunities.”

The Yankees did not win in Pereira’s major-league debut. They lost 2-1 to the Washington Nationals and now have their longest losing streak since 1982. Pereira, who started in left field, finished 0-for-3 with a walk in his first plate appearance. He also registered his first outfield assist after Ildemaro Vargas was thrown out at second trying to stretch a 111 mph single down the left-field line. Pereira fired the ball to cutoff man Anthony Volpe, who then gunned Vargas out at second.

The Yankees have struggled defensively in left field all season, so this is an area where Pereira, a classically trained outfielder, could make an immediate impact over Jake Bauers, Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Oswaldo Cabrera, who are not outfield-first players but have played there out of necessity. Pereira said he feels comfortable playing all three outfield positions, but center field is where he played the most coming up in the Yankees’ system.

“When you’re capable of playing all three (positions), usually that speaks to some athleticism,” Boone said. “He’s got some arm strength, so his arm will play in the corners, too.”

Pereira’s upside at the plate is what intrigues the Yankees the most. Of the 96 balls Pereira put in play in Triple A, 44 were over 95 mph. His 45.8 percent hard-hit rate in Triple A would be the fifth highest on the Yankees, behind Aaron Judge, Bauers, Kyle Higashioka and Giancarlo Stanton. Hitting the ball hard doesn’t automatically mean a player will have success on the field, but generally speaking, the harder the ball is hit, the harder it is for the defense to make a play. His max exit velocity while at Scranton was 114.5 mph, which would trail only Judge and Stanton on the Yankees.

One of the biggest negatives about Pereira’s game right now is he swings and misses at a high rate. In 2022 with Double-A Somerset, Pereira struck out in 30.1 percent of his plate appearances. In 2023, that number dropped to 29.2 in Double A and 27.8 in Triple A. Not unlike many other young players, Pereira has shown he struggles against off-speed and breaking pitches, but the hope is that as he gains experience, that’ll change.

“That’s part of that development,” Boone said. “He’s 22 years old and has improved in that area. We’ve seen big strides in that area over the last year. I think the result has been a really strong season at Double A and Triple A. Those are things that hopefully now, getting to the highest level and seeing guys that are really good at making adjustments, those are the types of little things that allow a player to go to the next level and separates the minor leaguers from major leaguers, everyday players to All-Star players, and so on. He’s doing a lot of really good things at 22 years old.”

Fans should expect Pereira to take his lumps for the rest of the season, but the experience he’s getting might be worth it as the Yankees examine what they may have for their 2024 roster. The Yankees will have an opening in left field and possibly center field with Harrison Bader becoming a free agent. Youth development is what’s most important for the rest of this season.

Because the Yankees promoted Pereira, it opened a spot in Triple A for 20-year-old Jasson Dominguez. Dominguez has a similar opportunity to what Volpe experienced last year. Volpe did not see much time in Triple A before the team was wowed by his performance in spring training and named him the starting shortstop for this season.

Before Dominguez was promoted to Triple A, he looked like he was finally settling in with Somerset. In his last 33 games, Dominguez posted a 163 wRC+ while showing better swing decisions at the plate. His 21.2 chase percentage ranked in the 98th percentile for all Double-A hitters. It’s an even more impressive stat considering Dominguez never faced a pitcher who was younger than him for the entirety of the season.

Now that he’s one step away from the majors, it’s not out of the question that the Yankees could see him sometime in 2024.

“We’ll see,” Boone said. “I think anything’s possible. That’s a long way from now in the baseball world. So, you never know what’s going to happen between now and then. He’s certainly now pushing to the upper levels of the minor leagues. With his talent, he’s certainly an interesting player.”

With September call-ups coming next Friday, Dominguez likely won’t be with the team this season — catcher Austin Wells is the likeliest player to be next in line for a promotion. But the 20-year-old phenom nicknamed “The Martian” finishing out the season with Scranton is one of the few encouraging things to watch in Yankeeland for the remainder of the season as the team looks ahead to 2024.

(Photo of Everson Pereira: Brad Penner / USA Today)

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Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams is a writer and editor. Angeles. She writes about politics, art, and culture for LinkDaddy News.

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